We clean ourselves and bathe daily, brush our hair and teeth and take care of our nails. Children often eat lunch and light snacks in the Children’s House, they need to be able to take care of themselves for their own comfort and to be presentable to others. Personal hygiene is an important part of adapting to and belonging to a group, especially as children will be handling their own food, serving their peers and making offerings to guests. To check that they look presentable Children’s Houses display four mirrors at different heights to draw the child attention to aspects of her physical appearance which need to be checked, this internalises and habituates a degree of self awareness. Three of the mirrors can be found in the cloakroom with the materials for personal care, the other is arranged so that the child can see herself when she is entering and leaving the living room.
The four mirrors are
- Head height – mirror, to check hair, face, teeth; have a hairbrush and comb with bands and slides, handkerchieves and cloths to wipe the face
- Chin to knee height – to check clothing, have a clothes brush
- Knees to toe height – keep shoe brushes and polish
- Full length mirror – to see oneself as a harmonious whole
Carers need to be made aware that children require comfortable, robust clothing that allows them to move, it should be easy for a child to put on by herself (e.g. simple buttons on the front of the garment) and have pockets.
In the Children’s House dressing frames are used to practice using buckles, laces, bows and hooks. Frames are used and not spare clothing or a doll with clothes because frames are believed to
- Add concentration
- Be more psychically congruent than a doll’s clothes, the frames are apparatus fashioned specifically for this use
- The fabric within the frame is held stable, enabling the child to focus only on the features of the fastener and not handling the material as well
- The frames are easier for the Directress to present with as they display the uniformity of the fastening
- It is easier to transfer knowledge gained o the frame to daily life
The dressing frames are given as individual presentations because
- The frames are only offered to the child when she is able to work by herself, (given at the same time as the parallel blocks)
- It is a self care activity and hence is to be done by an individual alone
- The minute movements need to be seen very clearly, an individual presentation can go at the individuals pace and be very specific
- For right handed children it would be confusing to watch the presentation being done sitting across from the teacher, though it may help a left-handed child to learn from a right handed teachers mirror image.